The week of action for democracy in Swaziland got off to an expected start today (6 September 2010) with the arrest of campaign leaders.
About 100 Swazi police officers turned out to break up a meeting attended by 60 people.
News from the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, is that police disrupted the seminar about the history of the democratic movement in Swaziland, which was being held at a hotel in Manzini, Swaziland’s business capital.
The seminar was organised by the Swaziland Democracy Campaign.
When police broke up the meeting they demanded to have the names of all foreigners present.
These included three members of Africa Contact’s Swaziland group and several people from South Africa, including representatives from the South African Municipality Workers Union, Public Services International, and the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (Cosatu), among others.
The participants of the meeting defied this order from the police and instead started singing struggle songs and most of the foreign delegation evaded police by escaping through the back door.
Police arrested organisers of the Global Day of Action for Swaziland democracy and took them away for questioning.
The arrests come after heavy intimidation by the Swazi police of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign, including threats of holding the leadership responsible for any incidents, however small, during the global action, which is expected to last all week.